Muckraking Mendota: The Water/Land Interface

by Emily Hilts

Willow Creek, part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve is a hotspot for wildlife. Photo: E. Hilts
Willow Creek, part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve is a hotspot for wildlife. Photo: E. Hilts

So far this summer, I’ve either stayed below the surface of Mendota’s waters or perched on top of the lake in a boat. Which means, of course, that I’ve been missing big pieces of the overall puzzle of this aquatic ecosystem. To fill in some of the gaps, it was time to head back toward land.
As the lakeshore path curves away from the Lakeshore Residence halls, it crosses a bridge where Lake Mendota and Willow Creek meet. The small bay is protected by a sandbar, but with this year’s high water levels, the only trace of its existence is a clump of willow and aspen that now appear to grow out of the water. Welcome to the wetlands. Shrubs creep out from shore, and their ancestors – now brush in the water – provide excellent fish habitat. Cattails extend out even further, accumulating silt with their roots. They create new ground under a few inches of water – a transition between lake and woods. Keep Reading –>

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